Title: The Vespertine
Author: Saundra Mitchell (site)
Published: March 7th, 2011 by Harcourt
Buy: Amazon/ Book Depo/ Powell's
Series: Vespertine #1
Synopsis: It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.
When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.(Goodreads)
Review: The Vespertine was a great mix of two of my favorite genres; Historical Fiction and Paranormal YA. Amelia is sent to stay with family in Baltimore to "meet the right people" which basically means find a suitable husband. Her cousin Zora was probably my favorite character. She was daring and independent (but not the point of being unbelievable for the time period). She and the somewhat meek Amelia balanced each other out nicely- and egged each other on nicely as well. Their escapades were fun, but nothing too modern for the period. Overall, Mitchell did a great job of setting the scene. Her 19th century Baltimore was believable, if a bit watered down for younger readers. There was enough period detail to flesh out the setting without overwhelming the story (face it, a lot of YA readers have short attention spans). Mitchell's writing style is fantastic- reading her work is a pleasure. Economical but not bare, her words made the novel move quickly (and kept me from taking a break). Amelia's powers emerged suddenly and were never explained, which was a bit annoying, but not a big deal (after all, it is a bit unbelievable that all of these characters manage to run into just the right person or book to explain things all the time). The romantic interest, Nathaniel the Artist, was another great character. The romance was a bit sudden for my tastes, but I suppose couples didn't really get to know each other that well before they were married back then (kissing could get you labelled as loose, after all). I did really like them together. Amelia's downfall, though foreshadowed, was sudden and brutal. The ending was really more of a beginning, so I'm hoping for a sequel (or a spin-off; their children maybe?), but I'm at peace with where the story ended if there isn't one in the works. I would recommend this to fans of Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series.
Update: A sequel is out in 2012, about Zora in Oklahoma Territory! Check out the page for Springsweet here.